'Unprecedented patient demand': Alberta reports 1,660 new COVID-19 cases, 17 deaths
Alberta reported 1,660 new cases of COVID-19 and 17 new deaths on Thursday.
The province completed about 18,000 tests, bringing the positivity rate to around 9.4 per cent.
There are now 1,058 people in hospital being treated for COVID-19, including 226 in ICU.
The number of people in hospitals with COVID-19 and patients in ICU represents the second-highest numbers to date.
There are now 20,180 active cases in Alberta. The seven day average of new cases is at 1,610 infections.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said 100 per cent of the new admissions to ICU were not vaccinated.
Seventeen more Albertans died from COVID-19, raising the pandemic death toll to 2,611. Among the deaths reported Thursday was a woman in her 30s who had no pre-existing conditions.
Hinshaw added that while some of those who had died from COVID-19 had been immunized and had other comorbidities, the majority of deaths were of unvaccinated individuals.
VACCINE BEST TOOL AGAINST DELTA VARIANT: HINSHAW
“Vaccines remain one of our most powerful tools in the fight against COVID-19,” she said.
The top doctor in the province highlighted key metrics to show the efficacy of vaccines against preventing serious health outcomes.
Albertans who are not fully vaccinated are about 15 times more likely than those with full vaccine protection to end up in hospital from COVID-19, Hinshaw said.
According to Alberta Health data, those who have not received any vaccine are 40 times more likely than those with vaccination protection to be admitted to the ICU.
“About 77 per cent of Albertans in hospital with COVID are not fully vaccinated,” Hinshaw said. “And 92 per cent of those in the ICU right now have not had both shots.
“We have heard persistent questions and rumours on social media that vaccines are not working against the Delta variant. But this is categorically untrue,” Hinshaw added.
In Alberta, COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be 85 per cent effective after two doses against Delta variant infection, Hinshaw said.
“The bottom line is that two doses of vaccine will protect most people from getting sick, having to go to the hospital, or dying,” she added.
Alberta has administered more than 5.89 million vaccine doses as of Wednesday.
'NOTHING IS REALLY STANDARD ABOUT THE SITUATION RIGHT NOW': YIU
Dr. Verna Yiu, Alberta Health Services president and CEO, said there is an unprecedented patient demand on the province’s health system.
She said as of Thursday afternoon, there are 310 total patients in ICU – including 226 seeking treatment for COVID-19.
“We have never ever had that number of total patients in ICU before,” Yiu said. “Never with the prior waves and never in the history of this province. And each day we see a new high.”
Yiu added that the five-day average for patients admitted for treatment in ICUs has been more than 23 per day.
“It’s tragic that we are only able to keep pace with these sort of numbers because in part some of our ICU patients have passed away,” she said. “This reality has a deep and lasting impact on our ICU teams.
“We are facing a fragile balance. On some days we are seeing more ICU patients than admitted than new ICU beds being created. We are transferring more patients out of zones to zones where there are additional critical care capacity.”
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As of noon Thursday, Yiu said Alberta had 350 ICU spaces. The province is using 89 per cent of those spaces. According to Yiu, AHS has more than doubled the baseline ICU space normally available in Alberta.
“Without those additional beds, our capacity would be at 179 per cent,” Yiu said. “Creating capacity is not a simple task and the beds we have added are not standard ICU beds.
“In fact, nothing is really standard about the situation right now, including staff ratios and some of the patient care we are providing outside of our ICUs. But this is the reality of our current situation. We have to do things differently to ensure we can care for all patients.”